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What Seems To Be & What Is

May 31, 2012

Many people and groups criticize and attack agriculture with horrible videos and pictures. They say if we had nothing to hide then we wouldn’t be concerned about photos. Yet the explanation for photos isn’t always accurate. Here are some examples of photos that could be twisted on explanation. These are ordinary photos taken when I happened to have the camera out shooting something else for the blog. It’s ordinary, but with a sensationalized “what appears to be” ‘explanation’ it sounds horrible, which is not reality. A snapshot or a 10 second video clip doesn’t tell the whole story.


What seems to be: dead or distressed chickens.

What is: chickens dust bathing (Natural!)


What appears to be: confined factory farm birds without room to move

What is: birds that just arrived, were allowed to settle in overnight (thus water) before being turned into their new pen when they can see in daylight.



What appears to be: rabbits kept in tiny cages so they can barely turn around

What is: rabbits in carriers that are used for transporting that prevents them from injury.


What appears to be: crowded chicks with no food.

What is: preparing to fill the feeder, so chicks come down to that corner in anticipation of food.


What appears to be: victim of horrific cruelty cutting the ears off this rabbit.

What is: doe survived an attack from her mother – she was 2 days old when her mother chewed ears off and disfigured ears on the entire litter. She and three sisters survived. She’s raised her own litter now and did a great job.

blogrooWhat appears to be: Battered and bloodied chicken that has been fought for “sport” from greedy drug dealers abusing animals.

What is: white Leghorn rooster that started a fight with a penmate (another white Leghorn) that he grew up with. They’d been together since they were hatched here last March, but when this one started relentless domination we separated the two. Both recovered, both are fine.


What appears to be: Dog chained with no water.

What is: Dog with history of running into traffic chained while we were there working in the back yard near him. Water is out of the picture. Yes he’s neutered. No it doesn’t stop him bolting out the door and running off. ๐Ÿ™‚


What appears to be: factory farm conditions for rabbits

What is: Silver Fox show rabbits at the 2011 National ARBA convention.

64 Comments leave one →
  1. May 31, 2012 8:44 AM

    This was great! Excellent way of showing how pictures can easily be taken out of context.

    • May 31, 2012 11:11 AM

      Thanks…in looking through some of the pictures I’ve taken – ones that I *know* the real story behind it – it’s easy to see how it could be misrepresented. Sadly, it doesn’t have to be accurate to be emotional and inflammatory.

      • onafixedincome permalink
        December 16, 2013 2:56 AM

        I’ve always said that if you took any one photo of an animal in normal conditions, without editing or captioning, and ran it past these three groups of people to be captioned, you’d get three totally different captions/opinions.
        A) Farmers
        B) Animal Rights
        C) Joe Q. Public

      • December 16, 2013 8:59 AM

        Very true. An often that wouldn’t really represent what the reality is. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. December 12, 2013 4:50 PM

    The only thing I see wrong is that your last rabbit picture in the convention cages is of the Silver Foxes, not NZB’s. They’d all be DQ’d for scattered whites and wrong fur type if they were NZB’s. LOL. (I raise both)

    • December 12, 2013 6:20 PM

      lol they were in the same area and the preview window was small – point taken!

  3. December 12, 2013 5:09 PM

    I can only imagine the controversy we could generate with some of the photos we’ve not posted. We document births, deaths, fights, breeding, etc. Sometimes we even take pictures of temporary conditions, like standing water, or ice and snow that could be interpreted as abuse. That’s why we’re very careful as to the pics we post.

  4. December 12, 2013 6:26 PM

    So much truth! It makes me SCALDING mad to see so many people take incidents out of context and use them to bang the AR drum. Only caveat here: Keep an eye out that these photos do not end up being used in PRECISELY the way you outlined here, because the truth will never dissuade people who are keen to see ‘abuse’ and ‘neglect’ everywhere.

  5. permalink
    December 12, 2013 8:05 PM

    Very good way to show this!!!!! I still remember when I was eight years old PETA wrote an editorial in the local newspaper about me because I had my rabbits at the mall in carriers for a 4-h days event……the PETA members asked about the cages which I explained were only transport cages and that they had huge cages at home……they took a picture and a couple days later the picture was in the paper saying these cages were what they lived in and how I was cruel for keeping them in this type of cage…….they did this to an eight yr old…….I never believe a picture I see depicting animal cruelty since that day!!!!!

    • December 12, 2013 8:29 PM

      Unfortunately they don’t care about bullying children. The truth does come out if we continue to tell it without being intimidated.

    • miskaffon permalink
      December 13, 2013 4:33 PM

      PETA will do ***ANYTHING***, lie, cheat, steal, and *kill* to get their way. And ***never*** admit it could be morally or legally wrong.

      • December 13, 2013 10:23 PM

        Just from a purely BUSINESS standpoint, it makes no sense for farmers to mistreat their animals… Meat animals do not gain weight well, bruised meat cannot be sold, stressed cows will decrease milk production and stressed hens lay fewer eggs… That all means LOSS OF PROFIT! I have always been suspicious when a news station receives “secret footage” of horrible animal abuse filmed over the period of several days at a “factory farm.” If the person doing the filming was REALLY CONCERNED about animal welfare, why was the “abuse” allowed to continue beyond the first incident, unless it was all a set-up? Frankly it smells, and I’m not referring to manure.

      • December 13, 2013 11:27 PM

        Those who grossly abuse animals should be held accountable. Agreed – if farmers (especially those larger than us who are “just about the money”) are losing money due to abuse, that’s a means of working against them. There are many things that are just not quite what they appear. The camera doesn’t lie but the explanation of what you’re seeing might. It’s happened too often. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  6. December 13, 2013 5:18 PM

    Oh come on. Undercover investigators aren’t stupid. They publish pictures of real cruelty at factory farms, not silliness like this. Show some pics they do publish and try to explain those away. Let’s see how you do.

    • December 13, 2013 7:43 PM

      I don’t think I said undercover investigators were stupid. The fact is if you see one of these photos *and nothing else* it can be explained as something MUCH different than the reality of what it is. You say it’s silly – there’s several incidents of rabbits found with ears shortened and assumed to be cruelly cut off. A photograph shows one moment. I *have* seen numerous people who see the rabbits in carriers and assume that’s where they live. How many dogs are turned in for being chained up without water – or a photograph to illustrate the same – without noting the dog was only there for a short period of time. Farmers know that, large or small, there are elements who will misrepresent and turn them in for cruelty or, perhaps more commonly, take a photograph to use online. There is no legal investigation – it’s tried in the court of public opinion, with the wrong information backing it up. One would think every dog in America was in terror for all the comments of widespread cruelty – and yet tens of millions of dogs are treated well. In a snapshot photo with a description, yes these would be held up as cruelty. I’m so sure that it can be done convincing I could take these “silly” pictures – or ones like it – and have people ready to invade a particular address just on the internet exposure. If you’re that sure it’s silly and false and people would never believe it would you put your address on one? Point is every one of these photos can be misrepresented much different than reality, and get an emotional reaction from people who do not know the whole story. Thanks for stopping by.

      • December 16, 2013 1:29 PM

        A dog breeder recently had her name dragged through the mud because someone took her dogs outside on a muddy day, staged pictures of “abuse” and neglect and published them on the internet where people verbally abused her. All this happened while she was in the hospital. People were calling for the seizure of all her animals, etc etc etc. The police have since filed charges against the person who staged the photos.

        A picture shows one moment in time. It doesn’t tell the whole story.

      • December 16, 2013 3:32 PM

        I hope she gets redemption for that, although it’s horrible when people twist things so. Unfortunately, there are a couple earlier visitors who say such things are not done,but I’ve seen people targeted in that very way. Unfortunately, it often has nothing to do with the animals. Thanks for stopping by.

    • December 13, 2013 8:55 PM

      There was a video a couple of years ago where a guy was “kicking the poor cow when she couldn’t get up”. In reality he was using the sole of his foot to push against the cow trying to”rock” her into getting up.

    • Christy permalink
      December 16, 2013 3:21 PM

      There are so many horrific videos these days from individuals that go undercover at factory farms. Most do show blatant abuse but it’s all mixed up with normal farming practices that look brutal when taken out of context. Down cows have to get back up or they will die. Using heavy equipment and pelvic clamps are a last resort but they are used. There are videos of cows getting a hotshot to the eyeball and other awful things (pigs seem to have it the worst) but I can assure you that if you took a video of people trying to roll a cast horse it would look abusive. Anyone that has no experience with livestock or animal husbandry has no reality to fall back on and believes the worst. It just really frustrates me that non abusive practices are tossed in with real cruelty and no distinction is made. There is enough brutality without skewing normal livestock maintenance in the process.

      • December 16, 2013 3:43 PM

        There is no room for the blatant abuse that some practice. However, to pretend it’s widespread or happens on every farm equally is not true. The explanation does matter. An animal is skinny why – the people might have just bought it, the animal might be under veterinary care, there might be many reasons for it but solely being skinny may not necessarily be abuse. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Skylar permalink
    December 14, 2013 7:37 AM

    Lol this is a pathetic attempt at diffusing the image that photos can have on our emotions. I did not believe any of these animals above were in any danger. There is no perceived risk of immediate harm in these. But there ARE SERIOUS problems in the food industries and this only makes light of the situation from which heavy consideration should be taken into account. And whether you care about animals emotions or not, the more stressed they are the more negative hormones that are created and, when consumed, creates a negative hormonal imbalance in our own bodies that can harm the growth of our youth. You are what you eat and we treat the things that go into our bodies as if it were from a landfill. This fact is the truly disgusting one indeed.

    • December 14, 2013 9:13 AM

      So you, too, are telling me to see a rooster with blood on him and no other information you don’t consider it cruelty? It wouldn’t be spread around as that? Seeing ears cut off a rabbit you wouldn’t leap to cruelty accusations? Because the latter has happened multiple times in the public view – and if you search right now there’s one recent in Scotland. There was one at the time this was written, too, which is why I included Shorty with an explanation. People DO react emotionally and DO respond to such things. That’s my point exactly – a photograph is a basis for public conviction and judgement. And while you say these images aren’t what the problem is, similar depictions *have been*. Stressed animals are not productive animals. While it’s reassuring that you don’t think these are abused animals, I haven’t met anyone so confident they’d allow their address used on a story altering the explanation. Thanks for stopping by, even to deny what I’m saying. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Tammy mazzaferro permalink
      December 14, 2013 1:37 PM

      That is why I buy my meat and produce locally. I know how the pork in my freezer was treated and feed. Try supporting your local farmers.

      • December 14, 2013 5:06 PM

        Kudos to you for making and acting on food choices Tammy! Many are happy with that which is convenient at the store, but many do want more. Thanks for commenting!

  8. December 14, 2013 3:26 PM

    That’s part of the problem with the world today – people make assumptions and spread rumors. Kudos to you for what you do!

  9. Christy permalink
    December 14, 2013 4:35 PM

    Thank you so much for sharing this. The photos of the rabbits – I knew that exact situation, our kids having shown rabbits for years!!!! And the rabbit carriers! Yep. And yes, our animals have attacked each other in natural situations.

    • December 14, 2013 5:08 PM

      Thanks for stopping by! What appears to be isn’t always full truth. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. December 15, 2013 11:27 AM

    as fair superintendent for many years I have been confronted (often with hostility) for animal cruelity because animals didn’t have food in front of them 24/7. do we need food in front of us 24/7? or or because our 4-H hogs had no water when in fact they had water in pvc pipes with nipples and the PETA or SPCA people did not understand the system. it is very frustrating for those of us who truly love our animals even when they are produced for food.

    • December 15, 2013 1:25 PM

      Most don’t understand 2/7 food can be a bad thing. I run into that a lot – people think rabbits must always have food but can get too fat and die from unlimited food. Education helps!

  11. December 16, 2013 9:28 AM

    You are so on track with how PETA can display photos against ya…had picture of innocent dog houses taken at my place and the picture posted on a page with my name,,then plastered with pictures of abusive conditions, misrepresenting them as being of my facility.have no idea where the pics came from, ..I think its time we post pictures of their belongings….how they care for their pets,,oh wait they don’t do animals. They aren’t truely capable of loving or caring for another. ..Lucky for the animals. And lucky that the public is getting wise to their hateful antics….

    • December 16, 2013 3:23 PM

      Those denying that such things can be misconstrued do not seem willing to have it represent their name and address. One moment of time doesn’t tell everything.Thanks for stopping by.

    • Appyrdr permalink
      April 3, 2016 9:38 AM

      Actually, a surprising number of them keep pets. Of course they are all “rescued” and “saved” from the horrible life that anyone who doesn’t share their agenda would wreak on the poor little beings. Their dogs are vegan, many have tried it with cats, with disastrous results.

  12. Mary permalink
    December 16, 2013 10:22 AM

    I see pictures of seizures of dogs that often show dogs in good shape. Hardly ever see a photo of a dog in questionable condition. And they are adoptable within two days, miraculous recoveries! And 40 ‘dogs’ is often 3-5 dogs with three litters, because puppies are included in those counts but they never report it that way. Your blog is great. So many abuse cases are manufactured from photos and videos out of context. They will do anything to remove our rights to own and use animals.

    • December 16, 2013 3:26 PM

      Rabbits and dogs face many similar accusations. Five does with bunnies, some youngsters and a few bucks can be represented as 100 rabbits as if it’s something horrible, where many teens can care for them. I did this to try to show there are innocent, everyday stories behind it, and while I hear from a few that MY place isn’t what they mean, it’s the cruel factory farms they’re after. Well – these scenes *could be* on a larger farm too. Size isn’t the only consideration of good care or bad. Thanks for stopping by – hope you’ll come back!

  13. December 16, 2013 11:59 AM

    Way back, even before PETA became active, a local AC person came onto a farm while the owner was gone, removed the water and food from a horse’s stall, and took pictures of the “abuse”
    Pictures didn’t have much merit since the horse was in good weight but she didn’t let those pesky details get in the way of her vendetta

    • December 16, 2013 3:28 PM

      Too many stories like this – “no water” because the water tank is behind the barn or animals turned out of dry lots because there was ‘nothing to eat.’ And while it might be prosecutable, harassment and the court of public trial doesn’t make it easier.

  14. December 16, 2013 12:25 PM

    Do you think PETA cares about animals? I remember being at he KY state Fairgrounds for a dog show. This fairgrounds is huge and has many things going on at the same time so traffic is terrible. I believe there were about 7000 dogs at this event. It was a warm day so all the doors were open. Peta came in and because the cages were cruel they went around letting the dogs out of their cages. Now they new the doors were open and could have run into the busy parking lot. So do they really care about animals. I believe NO. It is my opinion that they are about building their bank account.

    • December 16, 2013 3:30 PM

      If they cared about animals they wouldn’t put down over 90% of the ones they lay their hands on. They *might* be subjected to cruelty…so among their ‘millions of members’ they think all of them are going to torture the dogs? If they think so little of their followers, that says a lot.

  15. Jamie Whittaker permalink
    December 16, 2013 1:50 PM

    Great Blog! It’s about time that people who work with animals start to speak up and tell people the truth behind pictures. It’s so easy for John Q Public to believe the animal rights spin put on these photos. I hope you do more of this.

    • December 16, 2013 3:33 PM

      Thank you – many are putting the normal out there. I’ll be following with another one later this week. Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Mechelle permalink
    December 16, 2013 2:11 PM

    I thank you for this I often get criticized for saying what appears is not always what is. This lifted me. Yes we have cruelty and abuse in our world, but yes we do also have hard-working caring people too.

    • December 16, 2013 3:36 PM

      Don’t stop saying the truth. The only way they win is if we all become silent. Not all is what it seems to be, and the circumstances around the photo mean a lot. I’ve taken photos of stallions that in one moment in time look vicious, when the fact is they’re playing by themselves. Thanks for stopping by – getting rid of the abuse needs to happen, but not at the targeting of animals in good homes. Maybe it’s not spotless, maybe not perfect, but they’re good homes.

  17. cindi permalink
    December 16, 2013 7:58 PM

    Chickens doing dust baths are dangerous! I’ve twisted my ankle twice after falling in their little bathing holes ๐Ÿ˜‰ ouch!

  18. NeilB permalink
    December 17, 2013 2:48 PM

    Don’t confuse the issue with facts! Facts distort the narrative! (Thanks for the photos!)

    • December 17, 2013 2:54 PM

      The facts make a difference if there’s an issue or not. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  19. Liz permalink
    December 18, 2013 1:04 PM

    Be carefulโ€ฆ HSUS could steal your photos and use them with inflammatory captions!

    • December 18, 2013 3:43 PM

      Had started marking them shortly after – and have updated these. Of course, some say there’s no need to make things up and such photos as these aren’t seen that way. I don’t trust them anyway! Thanks for stopping by.

  20. KGP permalink
    December 18, 2013 1:24 PM

    Excellent – I am a suburbanite and always was but I used to raise and show rabbits and cavies plus work at a large ag fair every year for close to 15 years. Many of my friends in 4-H and in an adult club were farmers. Many suburbanites and urbanites have no idea the reality and this is what the AR movement counts on. I write for a local suburban paper and cover a lot of these topics. The more we educate the better!

    • December 18, 2013 3:39 PM

      And many of that movement get upset when a light is shown on that reality. We need to reach more people. Thanks for stopping by.

  21. December 21, 2013 10:30 AM

    Very good points made here! UP with common sense and logic. DOWN with animal rights propaganda!

    • December 21, 2013 5:50 PM

      Thanks! And thanks for stopping by. No excuse for abuse – and none for making up abuse.

  22. Dale A permalink
    December 23, 2013 10:45 AM

    I’ve seen the same thing over and over again of people assuming the worst with minimal facts available. For the person who claimed that undercover investigators don’t do this: have a look at the Iams cruelty video. Haven’t seen it myself in years, but what they don’t tell you: Videos were taken at an independent research facility, by the person hired by Iams to assure animal welfare. So, rather than report/investigate apparent abuse, she chose to film it and give the footage to PETA. I say apparent abuse as the content of the video is quite easily explainable with a little knowledge. The one that sticks in my mind is a shot of ‘animals too weak to stand’, which was in fact (quite plainly), animals recovering from an anesthetic. There were shots of hot spots (staph pyoderma), which I see regularly in pet dogs billed as horrible disfiguring wounds, and dogs in temporary kennels said to be living/raised in them. For the record, I’ve seen the current Iams/P&G research facility first hand, and it is beyond reproach, but I still hear *years* after this video was taken how Iams is cruel to animals. How many millions of dollars were lost as a result of a highly misleading video, with pretty well 0 accountability on the side of the one who took it.
    I think the reason they do this kind of thing is that they have a practice they object to, animal testing, food animals, or even keeping animals as pets period. They justify the misleading pictures as leading to a ‘better end’ (everyone should be vegan, and animals should only be in the wild), and anything they can do (lie, cheat, kill, steal, abuse animals themselves along the way), is justifiable in that context.

    • December 23, 2013 7:44 PM

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing. Cruelty is horrible and should meet with consequences, but false accusations should also be prosecutable.

  23. Diane permalink
    April 2, 2016 8:02 PM

    I have Shelties. In the spring and the fall, they drop their undercoat. When they are blowing coat, we give them a very warm bath and strip out the undercoat. They look horrible as they are drying, and their loose coats are hanging, prior to the stripping. One time I took a pic of them, before the brush and posted it. I stated nothing. People assumed it was a rescue that had been living in horrible conditions. Lots of poor dog, terrible owner comments. When I told them it was an International Champion, about to have his under coat stripped, they would not believe me.

  24. Kerry Roberts permalink
    April 6, 2016 12:11 AM

    I understand your point, however 99% of big ag does not take care of its animals and are in it for the money at any cost. Instead of giving vet care to aminals in need they pump them full of antibiotics to combat sickness and injury. Everything from how the animals are raised to transport to slaughter has become nothing but the importance of profit for these companies and for what the cost of human and animal safety and health. Ignorance is bliss! That’s why the public has the right to know! In the great words of Paul McCartney ” if slaughterhouses had glass walls everyone would be a vegetarian”

    • June 9, 2016 12:16 AM

      Giving antibiotics to combat illness IS giving veterinary care. There is a glass walls project covered on YouTube showing slaughter of multiple species. Most of agriculture does take care of animals. There’s no money in animals that get buried.


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